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Nice attacker had "a clear interest in the radical jihadist movement"

French police have released some details of the investigation.

French police are sifting through information from Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel's computer.
French police are sifting through information from Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel's computer.

Updated 7.42 pm

DEBATES ABOUT THE Nice truck attacker’s motives are continuing in France, but the country’s prosecutor says that he had an interest in jihadism.

On Thursday night, Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel drove a truck into a crowd of people watching a fireworks display in Nice for Bastille Day. Eighty-four were killed.

Many people interviewed by investigators described the Tunisian father-of-three as “someone who did not practise the Muslim religion, ate pork, drank alcohol, took drugs and had unbridled sexual activity”.

However Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said a “clear, recent interest in the radical jihadist movement” had emerged before Bouhlel rammed a 19-tonne truck into a crowd on Bastille Day in the Mediterranean resort city of Nice, killing 84 people.

Despite this, there has been no clear link established to the Islamic State group which claimed the attack, saying Bouhlel was one of its “soldiers”.

Analyses of his computer and cellphone showed a wide-range of images and internet searches showing a fascination with violence and jihadist movements such as Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group.

Researched Orlando attack

From 1 July Bouhlel made near-daily searches for video of nasheeds — religious chants used in Islamic State propaganda — as well as videos of readings from the Koran.

He also looked for information on the fasting month of Ramadan which ended earlier this month.

France Truck Attack Paris prosecutor Francois Molins provides updates into the investigation into the Nice attack. Source: Claude Paris/PA Images

In addition, he searched for information about the terror attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando that left 49 dead, and the Paris suburb of Magnanville — where a police couple were killed last month.

Both were linked to the Islamic State group.

‘Premeditated nature’

Bouhlel also had “very violent” photos on his computer, of corpses, fighters posing with the IS flag, photos of Al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden as well as Mokhtar Belmokhtar — a former commander for Al-Qaeda’s north Africa branch who has since formed his own group Al-Murabitoun.

There was also a photo of the cover of satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, where 12 people were gunned down by brothers in an attack claimed by Al-Qaeda in Yemen in Paris in January 2015.

Molins said the attack was “of a premeditated nature.”

From 1 July Bouhlel had searched for information about the Bastille Day fireworks display online and searches such as “horrible fatal accident”, “terrible fatal accident” and “shocking videos not for sensible viewers.”

France People walk on the famed Promenade des Anglais at the scene of a truck attack. Source: Claude Paris/PA Images

‘Religious beard’

He also researched truck rental agencies and looked up the address of a weapons store.

He reserved the rental truck on 4 July, around the time he stopped shaving his beard, one witness told investigators.

When questioned about his facial hair Bouhlel responded: “The meaning of this beard is religious”.

After picking up the truck on 11 July, Bouhlel staked out the site of the carnage on the Promenade des Anglais at 6 pm on 12 July when video surveillance showed him briefly stopping the truck along the road, and again at 10 pm on July 13, roughly 24 hours before he would launch his attack.

Taking selfies

On the day of the Bastille Day carnage he appeared to have spent much of the national holiday on the promenade, taking selfies on the beach and the walkway throughout the afternoon.

nice French police are sifting through information from Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel's computer.

Molins said “instructions” from IS to its supporters abroad to carry out attacks “can lead certain individuals to take action in France without needing to go to Syria and without precise orders”.

Adhesion to these instructions, radicalisation, can happen even faster when aimed at disturbed individuals or those fascinated by violence Either way, this is a terrorist act.

Half-mast

Meanwhile, the Irish flag flew at half-mast today at Government Buildings as a mark of respect to those who died in the Nice attacks on Bastille Day.

French interior minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, has warned that while the Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the attack, there has been no proof that the group were responsible.

Great shock

The Lord Mayor of Dublin, Brendan Carr, will be opening a book of condolences at the Mansion House today and Tuesday, from 10am to 4pm.

President Michael D Higgins signed it at 9.30am today with his wife, Sabina.

Source: RollingNews.ie

In response to the attacks in Nice on Thursday night, Higgins said:

It is with great shock and sadness that I have learnt of this devastating attack in Nice.

“With its appalling loss of life, including children, it will be received with revulsion by all those who value democracy.

This cowardly attack in a public place on a national day of celebration must be condemned in the strongest terms. We must strengthen our resolve not to let such cold-blooded attacks undermine the way of life in our global community seeking to live in diversity and peace.
All of the thoughts of those who value freedom and the public world are with the people of France at this time. I wish to express my sincerest condolences to the families of all those bereaved and injured.

Books of condolence

The French Embassy in Ireland has an online book of condolence on their website.

There will be books of condolence in County Hall, Swords, Civic Offices, Blanchardstown and Dún Laoghaire Town Hall from 9am to 5pm this week. There were also books of condolence in Clare and Cork.

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On Saturday evening people gathered outside the French Embassy in Merrion Square for a silent vigil. There were also vigils held in Galway, Cork, and Limerick.

Today is the third and last official day of mourning in France. A minute’s silence will be held across France today.

© – AFP 2016 with reporting by Elizabeth O’Malley

Read: ‘Je Suis Nice’: Books of condolence to open in Dublin and Cork

Read: Nice attack victims: An 11-year-old boy, a father protecting his pregnant wife, a teacher and students

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